Thursday, August 18, 2005

If we don't remember the past, are we doomed to repeat it?

The CTV headine says CMA supports parallel, private health system, the Globe says CMA backs private care, and the CBC headline reads CBC News: Doctors support parallel private health system at CMA meeting in Edmonton> Now, I didn't think that the doctors themselves were really quite as definite as these headlines imply, and indeed the CBC story also reports that the incoming Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai said the motion "merely reflects a recent Supreme Court decision, which upheld the right of Quebecers to turn to private health insurance if the public system fails them."
But when headline writers can so blithely write off the public health care system, it does indicate that our beloved system is losing the public relations battle.
These headline writers, and reporters, and I think most of the doctors too, likely do not remember a time when medicare was not available.
I do. Or, at least, I remember the doctor's strike in July of 1962 in Saskatchewan. I was a teenager at the time, and I remember how scared we all were without doctors. And a baby died of meningitis because his parents couldn't find a doctor to care for him. I remember my parents, both CCFers, talking about how important it was that the government hold fast and keep up the fight.
According to a doctor in Prince Albert, who was one of the few at the time who supported medicare, the first summer medicare was in force he saw dozens of people with medical conditions they had neglected for years, because they couldn't afford a doctor and had been too proud to ask for charity.
We need to remember all of this -- how painful and dangerous and humiliating it was to be unable to afford a doctor; and how hard it was to bring medicare into existence. We simply cannot loose it just because we take it for granted now.

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